WAGR W class

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WAGR W class
WAGR locomotive W934 at Woolshed Flat.jpg
W934 on the Pichi Richi Railway in April 2012
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerFrederick Mills, Charles Clarke & Beyer, Peacock & Co
BuilderBeyer, Peacock & Co
Serial number7378-7417, 7453-7472
Build date1951–1952
Total produced60
 • Whyte4-8-2
Gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Driver dia.4 ft 0 in (1,219 mm)
Length61 ft 10.9 in (18.87 m)
Width8 ft 2 in (2.49 m)
Height12 ft 4.4 in (3.77 m)
Loco weight97 long tons 10 cwt (218,400 lb or 99.1 t)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity5 long tons 0 cwt (11,200 lb or 5.1 t)
Water capW901-W940: 3,000 imp gal (14,000 l; 3,600 US gal)
W941-W960: 3,620 imp gal (16,500 l; 4,350 US gal)
Boiler pressure200 lbf/in2 (1.38 MPa)
Cylinder size16 in × 24 in (406 mm × 610 mm)
Valve gearWalschaerts
Performance figures
Tractive effort21,760 lbf (96.79 kN)
Factor of adh.4
OperatorsWestern Australian Government Railways
Number in class60
Disposition15 preserved, 45 scrapped

The WAGR W class was a class of 4-8-2 steam locomotives operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1951 and 1972.

Engineering Background[edit]

The class was first proposed by Chief Mechanical Engineer Frederick Mills in 1947. However, the death of Mills in 1949 put a hold on the project, with his successor Charles Clarke, taking up the project on his appointment later that year.

Mills had requested Beyer, Peacock & Co to reserve capacity for their construction when the design was first proposed, however, by the time Clarke took over, Beyer, Peacock & Co had identified a number of possible problems with the design. This led to a meeting in the United Kingdom in 1950, the outcome of which was a substantial redesign of the locomotive.[1][2][3]

The resultant locomotive included many proprietary boiler and ancillary fittings, as well as parts interchange ability. The firebox was substantially altered to take into account the properties of Collie coal. This included a combustion chamber, thermic syphons and arch bar tubes.[4]

The running gear was based heavily on Beyer, Peacock & Co's Standard Light Garratt, which was built for the South Australian Railways as its 400 class. The first 40 were delivered partially erected, whilst the final 20 were fully assembled prior to shipping. The last 20 had larger tenders, capable of holding an additional 2,500 litres (550 imp gal; 660 US gal). All were delivered between April 1951 and June 1952.[1][5][6]

Operational history[edit]

The light axle load of the W class, 9.5t, gave it availability across the entire WAGR Network. Although essentially a freight engine, the W class regularly hauled The Australind from Perth to Bunbury.[4] It effectively replaced the aged O and G classes still working on lighter parts of the network.

The class had a reputation for being free steamers and strong pullers. Although they have a well-deserved reputation for their reliability, like any new class the W locos suffered some minor teething problems, including ashpan failures, and leaks in and around the foundation ring. The leaks were traced to faulty welding. The class suffered from stay failures in its early days, particularly in and around the throat plate. The first to fail was W913 in 1952. At one point, no less than 34 of the class were in Midland Railway Workshops or regional depots for stay repair. The problem was traced back to the thermic syphons creating significant water movement in the area, overstressing the boiler plates, as well as problems with the quality of the original stays. The syphons were progressively removed over a seven-year period, eliminating the problem.[3][7]

Following the modification, the last of which was made in 1959, the class gave excellent service. As dieselisation of WAGR continued, the class was gradually moved to the southern parts of the network. Withdrawals commenced in 1968 with the last condemned in 1972. Most of the class was scrapped in 1971, although 19 were held in reserve at Midland Railway Workshops until 1972.[1][3][8] The last few remained at Midland until 1980.

Sister Locomotives[edit]

Beyer, Peacock & Co built four additional engines to the same design for the Silverton Tramway Company as their W class.


W920 on the Hotham Valley Railway in July 2005

The light axle load of the W class along with their relative youth resulted in them being sought after by tourist operators, both in Western Australia and interstate with 18 preserved. Today they form the backbone of the Hotham Valley Railway and Pichi Richi Railway fleets with each having three operational examples. Until 2006, Hotham Valley Railway's Ws operated services on the Brookfield Rail network, but today they are confined to its own heritage line.[6][9]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Gunzberg, A (1984). A History of WAGR steam Locomotive. ARHS WA Division.
  2. ^ Turner, Jim (1997). Australian Steam Locomotives 1896-1958. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press. p. 154. ISBN 086417778X.
  3. ^ a b c Oberg, Leon (2010). Locomotives of Australia 1850s-2010. Dural: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 245–246. ISBN 9781921719011.
  4. ^ a b Clark, Peter (2012). The Australian Locomotive Guide. Dural: Rosenberg Publishing. p. 78. ISBN 9781922013682.
  5. ^ "W Class Locos Await Ships". Sunday Times (Perth, WA). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 28 October 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  6. ^ a b Whiteford, David; De Bruin, Charles; Watson, Lindsay; Watson, Neville (1983). Western Australian Preserved Locomotives. Elizabeth: Railmac Publications. p. 18. ISBN 0 949817 19 8.
  7. ^ Foster, R (Winter 1997). "Early Days of the W". The Partyline. Steamtown Peterborough Railway Preservation Society Inc. ISSN 1322-2473.
  8. ^ a b W Class Steam Locomotive Rail Heritage WA
  9. ^ November 2006 Hotham Valley Railway
  10. ^ W901 Australian Steam
  11. ^ W903 Australian Steam
  12. ^ a b c d W class Hotham Valley Railway
  13. ^ W907 Australian Steam
  14. ^ W907 - the largest and heaviest advertising hoarding in the Flinders Ranges Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre November 2012
  15. ^ W908 Australian Steam
  16. ^ W916 Australian Steam
  17. ^ a b c d Western Australian Government Railways and Silverton Tramway Co W class locomotives Pichi Richi Railway
  18. ^ Trial runs of steam locomotive W22 Justin Hancock Pichi Richi Railway 6 April 2003
  19. ^ W919 Australian Steam
  20. ^ W920 Australian Steam
  21. ^ W924 Australian Steam
  22. ^ W931 Australian Steam
  23. ^ W933 Australian Steam
  24. ^ W934 Australian Steam
  25. ^ W943 Australian Steam
  26. ^ W945 Australian Steam
  27. ^ November 2013 Hotham Valley Railway
  28. ^ W953 Australian Steam


  • Durrant, A E (1978). Australian Steam. Newton Abbot, Devon, UK; North Pomfret, Vt, USA: David & Charles. pp. 98–99. ISBN 0715376055.
  • Gunzburg, Adrian (1968). WAGR Locomotives 1940–1968. Perth: Australian Railway Historical Society (Western Australian Division). pp. 22–24, 47. OCLC 219836193.
  • Gunzburg, Adrian (1984). A History of WAGR Steam Locomotives. Perth: Australian Railway Historical Society (Western Australian Division). ISBN 0959969039.

External links[edit]

Media related to WAGR W class at Wikimedia Commons